Dragon's launch escape system

With Space X's historic mission to the International Space Station declared a success, the world is wondering, what's next from the company?

This mission, which was the first ever commercial flight to the ISS, might signal a new era in space exploration dependent not just on government for innovation, but on private enterprise.

This first flight was an unmanned cargo mission. But on future missions, which will carry astronauts, the Dragon spacecraft will be equipped with a launch escape system (seen here in an illustration from SpaceX) capable of quickly carrying the capsule to safety in case of a dangerous situation during the launch sequence. Safety innovation is just the beginning.

Click on for a look at some of SpaceX's big ideas for the future of flights to the final frontier.

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SuperDraco thruster landing

Upon detaching from the ISS this week, Dragon re-entered Earth's atmosphere and fell into the ocean. But in the future, the Dragon spacecraft will use its SuperDraco thrusters to land propulsively on land with pinpoint accuracy.
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Falcon Heavy rocket

In 2011, SpaceX announced plans for the Falcon Heavy rocket. While the Dragon mission to the ISS carried 7,300 pounds of pressurized cargo, future missions aboard the Falcon Heavy rocket will carry around 53 tons of cargo into low-Earth orbit. Falcon Heavy will be the most powerful rocket in the world and historically is second only to the Apollo-era Saturn V moon rocket.
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Reusable rocket landing

SpaceX has plans to eventually launch rapidly reusable rockets that will use their engines to fly back to landing pads.
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Dragon may land on Mars

This artist's rendition depicts a Dragon spacecraft landing on the surface of Mars. In 2011, CEO Elon Musk said that SpaceX could potentially use Dragon to land a man on Mars within 10 years.
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SuperDraco Mars landing

An artist's illustration shows SpaceX's Dragon craft using the SuperDraco thruster system to land on Mars. A worst-case scenario, Musk said, is that it takes SpaceX 20 years to land a manned mission on the red planet. Sound ambitious? We'll just have to wait and see.
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Photo by: SpaceX / Caption by:
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